Spooky Savings: Energy Efficiency Fun for Halloween
Halloween is the day of vampires, witches and ghouls - when small, scary creatures knock on our doors and threaten “trick or treat”. Most importantly, Halloween is a day to be playful at home, at work and in your community: with fun costumes, decorations, parties and delicious themed foods.
With all this fun activity happening around October 31, though, there’s one special ingredient we can add to make everything even better: energy efficiency.
Here are five fun ways you can celebrate what the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) calls an “#Energyween”:
1. Make an energy-themed Halloween costume
Still looking for the perfect costume for your office Halloween party? Don’t waste time and money at the store. These brilliant energy-themed costume ideas from Energy.gov are easy to make right at home - and they will help you show off your energy efficiency savvy.
- Ernest Moniz - what could be a better energy-themed costume than dressing up as the U.S. Secretary of Energy himself? Throw on a suit and tie and don’t forget to add a “Founding Fathers” wig to get his signature hairstyle. For a final touch, carry a copy of the Quadrennial Energy Review (QER) detailing America’s smarter, more energy efficient future.
- Solar Panel - not all Halloween costumes have to be dark and scary! Brighten the room with a homemade, efficient solar panel costume. Cover a cardboard sheet with dark blue or black cellophane, tape down the edges with duct tape, and draw on a grid of contacts with a silver permanent marker - then hang it around your neck or over your shoulders using string. Have a friend dress up as the sun or throw on a pair of shades to complete the look.
- Energy Vampire - these creatures lurk in the shadows, waiting to suck up every last bit of energy in your home! Unplug all the unused charger cables in your home and attach them to yourself, then complete the look with a dark cape and some plastic fangs. You’ll be saving money (and scaring people) all day long!
2. Energize your Halloween decorations
Add some energy to your Halloween decorations with some energy-themed pumpkin carving. Start by downloading these energy pumpkin carving stencils and help boost awareness about energy efficiency in your neighborhood. Choose between an LED light bulb, wind turbine, solar panels and more - or come up with your own cool energy design. And before you add any lighting decorations to your front porch or windows, make sure you use LED bulbs. They can help you save up to 75% on electricity bills!
3. Enter the energy monster’s lair
There’s a reason people are scared of basements - they’re full of energy monsters! Basements often harbor cold air/warm air leaks and can gobble up one quarter of your energy bill. Start by sealing any gaps or leaks in the walls or ceilings to prevent cold air from seeping in. Be sure to seal or insulate any basement air ducts to keep heat from escaping. Finally, consider switching your basement appliances - like heaters and coolers - to ones with an ENERGY STAR label, which could save you up $200 a year. Use the money you save to buy more candy for trick or treaters!
4. Protect yourself from evil spirits - and higher energy bills
According to legend, Halloween is the night when the boundary between the world of the living and the world of the dead is at its thinnest, allowing ghosts and demons to run free. Whether you’re scared of evil spirits or not, there’s no question that energy bills can be truly frightening. Luckily, there are ways to defend yourself from both. First, banish creatures lurking in the darkness with outdoor solar lighting to keep the path for trick or treaters well-lit without adding extra cost to your electricity bill. Second, make sure warm air stays in your house - and keep ghosts from flying in - by sealing up your chimney whenever it’s not in use. Finally, avoid phantom loads that waste energy by unplugging appliances and devices whenever you don’t need them.
5. A celebration is never the same without… food!
We all know that the most important part of Halloween is the sweets! Head over to your kitchen to try some of these Halloween-themed recipes - and check out our tips for reducing the energy used by your kitchen appliances.
- Creep out your party guests with this wormy Jell-O brain recipe - a favorite with the kids! All you need is a plastic mold, some gelatin mix, gummi worms and a refrigerator. Remember that the recommended setting for your fridge is 35°-38°F for the fresh food compartment. Check the refrigerator temperature regularly to make sure it isn’t using any more energy than necessary.
- No Halloween is complete without some pumpkin pie! Try this easy and simple recipe for a delicious pie that is also low-calorie. And while you’re putting your pie in the oven, check and see if it is a natural gas oven or an automatic one with an electric ignition system. An electric ignition system will save more energy, since a pilot light is not burning constantly.
- When it’s time to clean up, check your dishwasher for an ENERGY STAR label. If it doesn’t have one, and your dishwasher was built before 1994, you could save a substantial amount on your energy bill by switching to one of these more affordable models. A typical household saves about $320 per year as a result of current energy standards for kitchen appliances, and as people invest in newer, affordable models, they can expect to save nearly $460 annually by 2030.
For more scary good energy-saving tips, check out this Halloween-themed podcast about a real-life energy ghostbuster from the DOE.